Ten Midwest Weekending Adventures

I call Ohio home and have for almost 27 years (a.k.a. my life). We do a roadtrip at least once a year, but there are millions of places I haven’t been. Today I’m sharing some places in my neck of the woods that still remain on my bucket list. For me, these places are only 1.5 to 6 hours away.

No one is paying me to write this, but if companies would like to give me a free stay/visit in exchange for a blog post I’d happily oblige 😉

(1) Treehouses at The Mohican | Glenmont, OH
This is a popular place for romantic weekends, fall trips, and bachelorette party get-aways. My brother and his wife spent a weekend here once & loved it. These just think they look awesome! Can you imagine this place in the fall??

(2) Ohio State Reformatory | Mansfield, OH
I’ve been here twice- once on a 4th grade field trip & once on a classic car tour. Shawshank Redemption was filmed here! This remains on my list because I’ve never been during Halloween… They offer a pretty insane haunted prison experience. K isn’t into haunted things so I’d have to gather a group of friends. 100% NOT going alone 😉

(3) Mammoth Cave National Park | Kentucky
I’ve been her as a kid, but I really want to go back! I’m dying to explore the caves and maybe go spelunking! (Again, K isn’t quite as excited about this… ha.)

(4) Chicago
I know that’s vague, but Chicago is about six and a half hours from us and I’d love to visit as an adult- especially around Christmas time!

(5) Lakeside | Lakeside, Ohio
This cute little destination along Lake Erie is actually a little Christian community. (I think I almost applied for a job in the area in college.) From what I can tell it has that small town Stars Hollow kind of feel. Adorable!

(6) Upper Peninsula/Mackinac Island | Michigan
This is one of those rare places that K has been and I have not. Fortunately, he thinks it’s a gorgeous place and he really wants to visit again! I’m thinking this is a spring or summer trip!

(7) The Old Vermilion Jailhouse | Vermilion, Ohio
I think this unique little bed & breakfast looks so neat! It really is a historic jail.

(8) National Corvette Museum | Bowling Green, Kentucky
This is K’s contribution to the list- he’s been talking about this museum forever. The museum actually experienced a sinkhole a few years ago. Right now they’re adding on to the manufacturing facility next door & K says we need to wait to go so we can tour both places.

(9) Ravenwood Castle | New Plymouth, Ohio
Remember that time I was obsessed with The Tudors? Yeah, I’d love to spend the night in a castle!

(10) Any NASCAR tracks nearby that I haven’t been to…
There are so many race tracks within hours of us that I haven’t visited: Martinsville, Charlotte, Chicagoland, Indianapolis, Kentucky, Pocono, & Richmond.

I’m linking up with the amazing Emma at The Adventures of a London Kiwi as well as her friends Polly (Follow Your Sunshine) & Angie (SilverSpoon London) & Erin (Erin Out and About) for the Travel Link-Up!

Have you ever stayed in a super unusually hotel or B&B? What are some day-trips you’d like to take?

(Any local resorts want to offer me a free stay? 😉 lol)

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Bopping Around Charlotte, NC

Every Fall the travel bug bites me and I get the crazy notion that K and I need to spice things up with a trip (much to his chagrin). One year we went to Jamaica, one year I took a girls’ trip to the beach. This October my parents gave us their hotel points and we headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We left home Wednesday night after work & got back on Sunday.

Typically we follow the same path south through the mountains multiple times a year, whether we’re going to the east coast or Florida (that’s a hellish drive) or the NASCAR races in Bristol. We’re usually in a car full of people and/or adhering to a strict schedule. Since this trip was just K and I, we decided we wanted to veer off our usually path, add about 45 minutes (which turned into two hours thank to traffic), and spend some time in Charlotte, NC.

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We started talking about a side trip a few days before we left, but we didn’t decided to go for it until we were on the road. (I am a Type-A anal-retentive planner/traveler, but I summoned all my strength to plan nothing [save the hotels and such] and just go with the flow.) We’d both never spent any time in Charlotte- home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame/admin. offices- so it was a unanimous decision to stop and explore.

Originally we planned to leave Thursday, but K and I said ‘goodbye’ to the dogs and packed up the car on Wednesday night. We drove about two hours south to meet my brother & his wife in Circleville, OH. If you’ve never been, there’s really not much except the Annual Circleville Pumpkin Show. K isn’t one for festivals or fairs, but I was annoyingly persistent- plus my baby brother was begging to hang out with us. Around 7 or 8 pm we arrived in town, spent 20 minutes trying to park, and finally left my car in the sketchy backyard of a town resident (for like $10 bucks). Despite a Cleveland Indian’s win that he’d listened to the whole way down, K’s mood was not stellar. Still, he plastered a smile on his face and walked around the crowded streets with us while I stuffed my face with french fries and pumpkin spice pulled pork (oh my gosh- SO good) and apple cider.

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We said goodbye to Fred & Xtina around 10pm and drove an hour to our hotel in Lancaster. We arrived just in time because an insane storm blew in just as we got settled in our room. I have never heard rain and thunder so clearly while staying in a hotel. The flashes of lightning through our drawn curtains were so intense. Of course K slept through the whole thing.

The next morning we packed up our car again and started south. It was a mostly uneventful drive. Traffic getting into Charlotte was a pain, but once we were in the city it was actually pleasant. Brace yourself… here come all the pictures…

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The building was architecturally incredible. The museum was intricate and modern, too. We purchased standard tickets (as in didn’t include a simulation ride or food) and they handed us two access cards. When we registered the cards outside the small informational theater we were able to enter our name, pick out a helmet design, and choose our race car driver tour guide. Obviously I picked Kasey Kahne. K chose Jimmie Johnson.

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This was the waiting area where you registered your card & wait for the 12-minute film.

Upon exiting the theater there was an entire exhibit dedicated to Tony Stewart or “Smoke.” He’s retiring after the 2016 year ends so some of his cars, fire suits, trophies, etc. are on display in the hall. From there you walk up a long, winding ramp that follows the progression of racing and the stock cars involved. It has winning cars from various years as well as details on each NASCAR track- both in-use and retired.

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Cars/Pixar fans might recognize the ‘Hudson Hornet’- which was a real race car!

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Our race track :)
Our race track 🙂

We practically had the entire museum to ourselves, which was glorious. I regret that I took so many pictures & didn’t read more of the information. That said, we were finishing up just as the museum was closing so if I’d have read all the things I wanted to we’d have never made it through in time. We’ll go back someday soon.

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There’s a circular room with all the HOF inductees. Each person has a pole like this that includes their image, information, and a video about their involvement in the sport.

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The museum has a Hall of Fame Room, a pit crew challenge (K beat me… stupid tire was so heavy!), a race simulator, and a top floor dedicated to the history of the sport. Kyle Busch was the champion last year and they had his car and the trophy on display at the museum.

The race simulator was awesome. Our package didn’t include it so we were prepared to pay $5 but the staff member just let us slide through since it was the end of the day. (Honestly, the customer service at NASCAR was ridiculous. Everyone was friendly and helpful and attentive. It was a really great experience for us!) K ran second for most of the race, but he was wrecked right at the end and finished 6th. I got 4th place after blowing my engine at the beginning. Oops…

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We didn’t want to eat at the museum’s BW3 because we have one in our town, so we wandered down the street and found Carolina Ale House. Blogger-fail on my part because I didn’t take any food pictures, but trust me when I say it was delicious! Our pulled pork nachos were incredible. We also has a window seat so I could watch downtown Charlotte and over-analyze everyone. #MyFavorite

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We both wished we’d had more time Charlotte (a.k.a. we later decided we should’ve just vacationed to Charlotte), but it was only meant to be a short stop on our way to our destination. After dinner we hopped in the car and started on the 3 hour drive to the beach.

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Cape Cod [ 2 of 2 ]

Monday I tackled the first half of the alphabet in regards to Cape Cod. Today I’ll tackle the second half.

This will essentially sum up my vacation 🙂 I have a guest post next month with Olya  on The Siberian American with more details on Nantucket, so keep an eye out for that!

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Boston

N -New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This was our first trip to this race track! I’m glad we got to experience it!

O – Oysters. Three of us (not K) tried oysters for the first time. Um…. we all agreed that they’re gross. Haha!

P – Pit passes. We had passes to go down into the race track pits. It was awesome to see the cars and crew up close.

Q – Qualifying. I’ve never watched the Sprint Cup (NASCAR) qualifying races but we had tickets to all three days of racing in NH!

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R – Restaurants. We had a kitchen in the hotel & we ate-in a few times, but we hit up so many delicious restaurants in the cape.

S – Shipyard. We didn’t have a set plan for Boston so when K suggested the shipyard we put on our walking shoes and went!

T – Two hours and 15 minutes. That’s the length of the ferry ride from Hyannis Port to Nantucket.

U – Unscheduled. We took an unplanned, unscheduled stop in Plymouth, MA to see Plymouth rock!

V – Vehicle… er, land vehicle. We took a DUCK boat all around Boston Friday morning & learned a little about the city and it’s history!

W – Whale watching! I loved whale watching- especially seeing the moms and calves!

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X – eXhaustion. (Ok, that’s a stretch…) On Wednesday I found myself tired & nauseous. I think heat exhaustion got the best of me.

Y – Yelping. Our dogs actually cried and yelped when we walked back through the door. (Or maybe that was me….)

Z – Zee end. Overall, it was a ridiculously packed vacation that came right on the eve of my brother’s wedding… Which means I’m already dreaming about a tropical beach and spiked drink  😉

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Cape Cod [ 1 of 2 ]

Hi ya! I thought I’d do a quick two part recap on our trip to the Cape today & Wednesday! Instead of rambling on and on about each day I’m going to give an abbreviate alphabetical version of our trip. Before I do, here are the basics:

K and I left Sunday morning with my parents for a 9 day trip. We spend Sun. night in Greenwich, CT and M/T/W in Dennis Port, MA with a quick day trip to Nantucket on Tues. Thursday afternoon through Friday morning was in Boston with the remainder of Friday & Sat/Sun spent in Loudon and Lincoln, NH at the NASCAR race. We drove home (+12 hours) on Monday.

A – Ascend. On Thursday we climbed the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston. 294 steps in +80 degree weather!

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B – Biking. We biked over 18 miles while on Nantucket! It was exhausting.

C – Connecticut. We spent our first night of vaca. in Greenwich, Connecticut- just as a resting point.

D – Dogs. I missed our babies terribly but I tried to pet at least two dogs every day on the trip. Ha!

E – Excursion. We traveled in my Dad’s three-row, black Ford excursion. For over 1,600 miles total.

F – Fred. This was my first family vacation without my little brother 😦

G – Good weather. We had mostly warm, rain-free weather all week! At times it was so hot but overall it was fantastic.

H – Humidity. Seriously, you just can’t escape it!

I – Island. It was so fun to introduce my parents to the Island of Nantucket!

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J – Juice Bar. The Juice Bar is a delicious ice cream shop on Nantucket!

K – Kyle. It was another one of those whirlwind, jam-packed vacations & K was such a trooper.

L – Lincoln & Loudon, New Hampshire. We stayed in one city & watched the races in the other!

M – Massachusetts. We spent four days in MA and this was my firs trip to Boston!

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You can find the second half of the alphabet here!  🙂

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Weekend Recap

Today was supposed to be another India post, but I dropped the ball. It’s still saved in drafts with a crude outline, minimal content, and zero pictures… So I guess I’ll save it for next Monday.

Since I’m running a little late today I’ll keep things short and sweet with a weekend recap.

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Friday
After work on Friday K and I went to the local bowling alley to celebrate our friend Nic’s 30th birthday party. His wife Erica put the whole thing together for him and we bowled two games with pizza & cake in between. It was fun to spend some late-night time with them! (They have a 15 month old so late nights out are understandably rare for them.) K went out with Nic and his firefighter buddies afterward and I went home and went to bed like an old lady. Ha.

Saturday
On Saturday K and I headed to Columbus, Ohio to surprise his sister Lori and her family for her birthday. K’s mom orchestrated the whole thing and planned out food and cake for the entire party. Six of us (us, my in-laws, and K’s brother & sister-in-law) drove down to spend the day with Lori’s family of five. It was a nice relaxing day with delicious food and the cutest dogs.

Sunday
Sunday was my get-stuff-done day. We laid in bed longer than we should’ve, but once we were up we hit the ground running. K mowed the lawn and then headed to my parents’ house to work on his truck. I went to the local nursery and spent some serious $$$ on flowers, then browsed Marshalls, Lowes, and Rural King for some cute planters. I spent the afternoon sprucing up with front porch, weeding, vacuuming the dog hair/grass/springtime dirt that was tracked into our house, and watching the NASCAR race. Around 4pm I met Erica for some hot yoga (#dead) and then had dinner with my family at my grandmas. Overall, a super productive Sunday.

I don’t usually do a weekend recap, but I felt like we actually did some fun, noteworthy stuff the last few days. Hopefully that wasn’t too boring. What did you do this weekend?

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NASCAR Racing

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that roughly 100% of you don’t want NASCAR and have never been to a race… nor would you ever go to a race. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this post will go Pinterest-famous or I’ll be a Twitter sensation and everyone will flock to this post and drink in the knowledge of this avid race fan.

Either way, I write what I write because I like it. Hopefully you read what you read because you like it.

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There are multiple races driven on a race weekend, but I’m going to limit these tips to the Sprint Cup series (a.k.a. the one you’ve heard of that Jeff Gordon used to race in). Also, for the sake of time, I’m going to assume you’re at a day race. Sometimes they race at night (and it’s awesome), but most of the races start around 1pm. So let’s do this…

| 1 | Pick a driver.
If someone has dragged you against your will into a race track and you could not care less who wins, then you’re going to have a crappy time. Even if you don’t know the names of the men (and woman) in the cars, you need to pick one. The excitement comes when your guy is flying around turn four and passing all the cars. If you really absolutely don’t care, allow me to suggest a few drivers that tend to pass others (verses be passed): 48, 18, 4, 30, and 22.

*I am not a fan of most of those guys, but there’s no denying they win a lot.

| 2 | Wear sunscreen like it’s your job and RE-APPLY often.
Most seats are in direct sunlight for the entire +/- 4 hour race. You’re essentially on an aluminum baking sheet for the hottest part of the day with no shade. I guess if you like to tan this is great news… but if you belong to The Proud Pale People of America Association like I do then this is what you’ve been training for. Last weekend I reapplied 50 spf every 20 minutes to my legs, chest, and arms. I had it on my face, too, but I never attend a race without a hat. (The sun bleached and ruined my hair once- ugh.) I’m proud to say that after two 6 hours days in the sun I am still borderline ghostly.

| 3 | Pack all the good (light-weight) snacks.
The hands-down best part about a NASCAR race is the fact that you can byob. And byof. As long as it’s not in glass, you can bring your beer, pop, water, chips, trail mix, pb&j sandwiches, etc. into the track via cooler. Usually we consume lots of adult beverages (as do those around us), but this weekend was SO HOT and we inhaled the water bottles.

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| 4 | Go shopping between laps 1 and 100.
Once you pick a driver it’s time to fully commit. NASCAR has recently changed their merchandise set up. Once upon a time the different drivers/teams had trailers that were set up similar to a fair or street festival and your bopped from one to the next buying t-shirts and koozies. Now they have a large roped off area where there are different driver/team sections under a tent (similar to a craft show) and you collect all the gear you want to buy and pay for it all at once in the cash-wrap tent. The new set-up is easier, but I bet it’s crazy crowded when +30,000 people are scrambling for a Jimmie Johnson shirt before the race. That’s what I suggest shopping after the race has started; it’s a ghost town.

| 5 | Be ready for anything.
One year it rained and we had to go home and miss the race. One year it rained and they didn’t start until 8pm. One year it rain halfway through, they red flagged the race (paused it), and picked it up once the rain quit. One year I had to buy a sweatshirt and a blanket to stay warm and this year I was in a tank top and shorts. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes to clean up a wreck and sometimes it takes 20 minutes. Honestly, you never know what you’re going to get when you walk into that race track.

Items you will definitely need: ear plugs, sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen.

Ok, I know this post won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’ve made it this far, I thank you 🙂 I promise I’ll get back to the norm next week.

Have you ever watched a NASCAR race? Have I sparked your interest at all? What sports do you shell out money for?

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Mash-Up Monday

Today I have a smorgasbord of thoughts so I’m simply titling this post “Mash-Up Monday.”

(First things first, I had to look up the origin of “smorgasbord” because it’s such a funny word. Turns out it’s a Scandinavian word that means a buffet-style meal with a variety of hot and cold foods. And it looks like this: Smörgåsbord)

Moving on…

Last Wednesday night I went to see Zootopia with my mom at the local theater. (Our theater is small & it only has two screens, but tickets cost $3.50 on hump day and we got popcorn, two drinks, and candy for $7. Hells yes.) Listen, I know that this movie has excellent reviews (98% on rotten tomatoes) and no one has said anything bad about it but… …I loved it! It was cute, it was funny, it made a wonderful point about acceptance and following your dreams, and the main character was a female who DIDN’T fall in love at the end or “succeed” by winning the guy. Our future children will undoubtedly love cartoons as much as I do, but I hope Judy Hopps is one of their role models ❤︎

Hold on, I need to keep talking about Zootopia.
This movie comes at just the right time. Like most Disney movies, the film sets out to teach a few lessons but these lessons are SO timely: We mustn’t fear others simply based on their labels. Ruling with fear is not the answer. If we revert back to our past prejudices then we are bound to fail and fall. While we all have our limitations, we have the ability to try to do anything we set our minds to. Some people are happy to be carrot farmers out in the country and some people are happy fighting crime in the big city. It’s important to forgive.

I thought this city would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. -Judy Hopps

Seriously, though. Go see the movie. And show your kids, grandkids, cousins, and nieces & nephews.

Alright. I feel like I can move on now.

Last week I was miserable thanks to my sensitive sinuses. K tried to convince me that I was sick, but my body didn’t ache and I didn’t have a fever and he wasn’t showing any symptoms (K can catch a cold over the phone- his immune system is sub-par). By Thursday things were on the mend and I was so thankful. I felt the tickle in my throat on Sunday and I had my sinuses in tip-top shape by Friday night. I don’t know if that’s an admirable time frame or not, but here’s what I did to combat my sniffles- just in case you need a remedy:

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med | meds | rub | vitamins | tea | humidifier

I also drank lots of water, took hot showers, and got plenty of sleep. A long time ago a friend of mine told me that she never sniffs all that gunk back into her sinues/nose- she always blows her nose, even if she’s constantly do it. I think that makes a huge difference. Also, my nose started to get raw and peel so I put antibiotic cream (Neosporin) on it each night. LIFESAVER, guys. (And yes, we really do have a frog humidifier because we adult awesomely.)

Speaking of sniffles… (warning: this is going to get gross-ish) … I looked up the significance of clear mucus verses discolored mucus on the internet. I found this chart from The Cleveland Clinic and it proved to be quite helpful with my self-diagnosis:

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(source)

For the most part, my nose juices were clear, but every time they were a little off-color I thought to myself, ‘Heck yes, white blood cells! You fight that infection!’ I’m a weirdo.

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I don’t like to announce our trips on the internet before they happen, but right now I’m currently on my way home from a NASCAR race in Bristol, TN. I left town on Saturday. K left town on Wednesday to attend the world drumline championships in Dayton, Ohio and he got home yesterday. So I haven’t see my guy in 5 days (and I haven’t seen my dogs in two days!). I can’t wait to be home!

I told you today was going to be random 🙂 I definitely delivered.

Have you seen Zootopia?? What did you think?

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